Beginners’ Ski Guide: Ski Etiquette

Debbie Gabriel

04 Mar 15

Hitting the slopes for the very first time can be the most thrilling feeling in the world, but for a ski beginner it is also incredibly easy to forget the basic rules of ski etiquette amongst all of the excitement. Speak to the majority of skiers out there and they’ll have a story or two to tell you about their near misses with a less experienced skier. To keep you safe and to keep the more seasoned skiers happy, check out our beginners ski guide to learn the most important rules of good ski etiquette.

  • Kill your speed. It’s so tempting to hurtle down the mountain at a breakneck speed, especially when the piste is lovely and wide, but it’s incredibly important to make sure that you only travel at the speed you are comfortable with and are able to both control your turns and make a quick stop if necessary.
  • The skier in front of you has the right of way, so keep a mindful eye on their movements to avoid a collision. The skier at the back will automatically be held responsible for any crash (which obviously sucks if you’re not in the wrong), so maintain a safe speed and don’t get too close to anyone down below.
  • Use runs appropriate for your skill level. For beginners, it’s recommended that you stick to the green and blue slopes whilst you’re still learning. If you make good progress with your skiing and are feeling confident enough to tackle the red or black runs, then absolutely go for it. But if you’re unsure, it’s best to avoid these slopes so you’re not in the way of more accomplished skiers who are travelling a lot faster than you.
  • Stop at the side of the run, not in the middle of the slope. And be careful not to stop where you’re concealed from skiers heading down the mountain. Many tourists make this mistake, particularly if they’re in larger groups, and it can make it very difficult for descending skiers to pass. Plus, you don’t want to put yourself in any danger of being skied into.
  • Don’t stand on the skis and snowboards of others in a queue. Sometimes this is difficult when the queues are completely rammed, but no skier or snowboarder wants their beautiful, hard-earned equipment to be scuffed and scratched by the people behind. Trust me, I’ve given plenty of dirty looks to skiers who do this.
  • Don’t spray strangers with snow. As tempting as this is – and really, it is – it’s not the best idea to blast unsuspecting strangers with a large flurry of cold, wet snow. By all means, though – spray your friends if they have the same sense of humour as you! It honestly never gets old.
  • If you’re a smoker, don’t smoke on the chairlift, especially if you’re sat with strangers or children. Often you can be on a chairlift for quite a long time, so for non-smokers sat with you this can be quite an unpleasant experience. Save this for when you’ve stopped on a quiet part of a mountain. If you’re a non-smoker, avoid the French tourists as they are notorious lift-smokers!

We know this is a lot of ski etiquette so don’t be put off by all of the above – they’re simply guidelines that are mostly dictated by common sense. You’re only in the Alps for a short amount of time so remember to enjoy every second of it and focus on becoming Britain’s next Olympic gold medallist. Or you could simply try to aim for parallel turns by the end of the week. Either way, enjoy yourselves!.

By Lorna McGachie